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The Interview Class 12th Commerce

The Interview by Christopher Silvester About the Author


Christopher Silvester (1959) was educated at Lancing College Sussex, and Peter House, Cambridge, where he read history. From 1983 to 1994, he worked for Private Eye, initially writing the ‘New Boys’ column. He has written for several newspapers and magazines. He is also the Editor of The Penguin Book of Interviews: An Anthology from 1859 to the Present Day and the author of The Pimlico Companion to Parliament. He currently writes obituaries for the Times (of London) and book reviews. He is writing a three-volume social history of Hollywood for Pantheon Books.


Author Name

Christopher Silvester


1959, London


Lancing College, Sussex, and Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he read history


The Pimlico Companion to Parliament: A Literary Anthology

Books edited

The Penguin Book of Interviews: An Anthology from 1859 to the Present Day


The Interview Summary by Christopher Silvester


The Interview Introduction to the Chapter

‘The Interview’ is an extract from an interview of Umberto Eco. The interviewer is Mukund Padmanabhan : from the ‘The HINDU’. Thousands of celebrities have been interviewed over the years. Our most vivid impressions about contemporary celebrities are through interviews. But for some of them, interviews , are ‘unwarranted intrusion in their lives’.


In the second part of the chapter, the interviewer highlights how Umberto Eco considers himself as an . academician first and a novelist later on. He considers himself a university professor who writes novels : on Sundays – occasionally. The possible reasons of the huge success of Eco’s novel, ‘The Name of the i Rose’ are also highlighted in the interview.


The Interview Theme

‘The Interview’ written by Christopher Silvester briefs the new invention ‘Interview’ in the field of journalism. Interview that was invented over 130 years has become a commonplace journalism. Today, every literate or illiterate will have to experience interview at some points of their life. It is surprising to notice that as an interviewer, each one is comfortable, whereas as an interviewee, they feel it much disturbing and diminishing.


The Interview Summary in English

The narration, “The Interview”, written by Christopher Silvester is a very interesting lesson speaking about the invention of the interview about 130 years ago. We face interviews throughout our journey of life and several thousand celebrities are the part and parcel of this process. Yh e opinions of the interview—its functions, methods and merits—vary considerably. Some people believe that they are able to recall the truth while there are those who have a great despise from the word ‘interview’. They believe it to be a kind of direct encounter into the lives of the celebrities. In this context, some of the world fame writers had varied opinion. According to V.S. Naipaul, a cosmopolitan writer, “Some people are wounded by interviews and lose a part of themselves.”


Given below is an extract from an interview of Umberto Eco. He is interviewed by Mukund Padmanabhan from The Hindu.


Mukund : Once an English novelist, David Lodge remarked that he was unable to understand how Eco could do so many things.


Umberto Eco : People might feel, ‘I am doing many things but in the end I have found that I am always doing the same thing.’


Mukund : Which is that thing?


Umberto Eco : It is very difficult to explain. I have got some philosophical interests which are pursued by my novels and academic work. There are my books for children. They are about peace and non-violence and this is all philosophical interest. Even then there is a secret. All of us have a lot of empty spaces in our lives and I call them interstices.

Suppose you are coming over in an elevator to my place and I am waiting for you. This is an interstice—an empty space. I work in empty spaces. Your elevator will come up from the first to the third floor, and I am waiting for it. I have already written an article.


Mukund : It must be your non-fictioiial writing. Your work has a certain playful and personal quality about it. This is a departure from a regular academic style. You must have adopted an informal approach.

Umberto Eco : While presenting my first doctoral dissertation in Italy, one of the professors said “Scholars learn a lot of certain subjects, then they make a lot of false hypotheses, correct them and give the conclusions. But you told the story of your research.”


At the age of 22,1 understood that the scholarly books should be written the way I had done—by telling the story of the research. So, my essays have a narrative aspect. At the age of 50, I started writing novels. I remember that my friend Roland Barthes was always frustrated that he was an essayist and not a novelist. He wanted to do some creative writing but he died. In my case, I started writing novels by accident. The novels satisfied my taste for narration.


Mukund : Thus, you became famous after the publication of The Name of the Rose. You have written five novels and many more on non-fiction. Among them a seminal piece of work on semiotics. If we ask people about Umberto Eco, they will say that he is a novelist. Does it trouble you?


Umberto Eco : Of course, it troubles me. I consider myself a University Professor who writes novels on Sundays. It is not a joke. I always participate in academic conferences. I do not attend the meetings of Pen Clubs and writers. I identify myself with the academic community. By writing novels, I am in a position to reach to the large number of people. I cannot expect to have one million readers with stuff on semiotics.

Mukund : I ask you another question. Your novel The Name of the Rose is very serious novel. At one level, it is a detective tale, and then it goes deep into metaphysics, theology and medieval history. It is being enjoyed by a large number of audience. Were you puzzled at all by this?


Umberto Eco : No, the journalists are puzzled. We can even see that sometimes publishers also get puzzled because both believe that people like trash and do not like difficult reading experiences. Suppose there are six billion people in this planet and the novel is sold to 10 and 15 millions. Thus, I am getting only a small percentage of readers. Thus, these readers do not always want easy experiences. After dinner at 9.00 p.m., I watch television, and see ‘Miami Vice’, or Emergency Room. I enjoy it and I need it but not all day.


Mukund : Can you tell that how your novel has got a good success even if it deals with the medieval history?


Umberto Eco : That is possible. But I can tell you another story. My American publisher told she did not expect to sell more than 3000 copies in a country where some has seen a cathedral or studied Latin. So, I was given an advance for 3000 copies but in the end it sold two or three million in the U.S. So many books have been written about the medieval past but the book has a mysterious success. Nobody can predict it. If I had written it ten years earlier or later, it would not have been the same. Why it worked is a mystery? Thus, the novel The Name of the Rose has got a good success.

The Interview Main Characters in the Chapter

Mukund Padmanabhan

He is an interviewer from ‘The Hindu’ who interviews Umberto Eco after his huge success of the book he wrote.


Umberto Eco

He is the author of the popular novel, ‘Name of the Rose’. He is a University Professor. Writing novel is his hobby which he does only on Sundays. He had written 40 scholarly works of non-fiction and 5 novels. He always identified himself with the academic community, and never with writers or novelists.


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